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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Monday, November 12, 2007


Our Best Friend

This is Kiki. This photo was shot about an hour before I got dressed up for an event. She turned a year-old this week and is a mild-tempered, sweet girl. She loyally follows Adam around the house and lies at his feet. She wants to be everywhere he is -- and this is not something I had to train her to do. She just loves him unconditionally.

Some people note that their autistic kids don't take much interest in dogs -- opposite to cats and more "like humans" the way they socially "get in your face," they may receive the same atypical response as people get (at least people who demand eye contact and typical social responses) -- which is something I've read from other autistic people. But Kiki is not just a pet, she is a presence. What I thought was an adorable nuisance when we acquired her has turned just this month for me anyway, into true love. I don't know if any of you have experienced that sudden bond? Maybe it even happens to people when they give birth. Sometimes bonds don't happen immediately -- they just suddenly click. How did it happen for me? Was it how she stayed by my side the night we had a dinner at our home with a bunch of strangers, or how she seems to be following Adam around the house when he's home -- her loyalty stronger to him than to me? She doesn't read his supposed "non response" as disinterest. She is just there, always by his side, often under my feet when I work at my desk when Adam is at school...waiting.

At first, I wondered if Adam would take to a dog. I got her because like me, Adam is an only child. Granted, his has four half-siblings, but they are all so much older. I grew up with dogs, and I wanted Adam to have something cuddly or "just around" like I did. I watch other kids with Kiki and they are more animated around her, wanting to pet her or feed her. Adam goes on playing and his way of being around her is much more subtle. Some days, she pisses him off when she cuts in front of him with excitement. Other days, she lies on her back, paws hanging and teeth showing like a mischievous grin -- in some dog-induced bliss of anticipating that tummy-rub. Adam thinks it's hilarious, and he may even go to pet her.

Adam is really changing again these days -- he is moving on to six years of age soon and I can't believe it. He put himself to bed on his own last night and was really clear he didn't want me in the room -- his desire to be more independent and in control is very apparent to me these days and I don't take it personally, but see it as a positive thing. He can do so many things for himself and when he does he is so proud. His communication was of upset with me for wanting to comfort him, but he didn't want it. He was over-tired and wanted to be by himself, and good 'ol mom thought she could solve it for him. I am acutely aware of how not listening to this communication would have lead to aggression, as he was already kicking me away (not actually kicking me, but the air that shifted in my direction with each thrust).

Tomorrow, we start a concentrated AAC program with a device. We have been working on literacy and it's been going very well for him. He is so proud when he writes things down, or can read to me a few words from a story book. His awareness is catapulting and I know he is aware already of his difference. I so want to support him emotionally with is growing self-awareness and awareness of how the world works and perceives him. And in the meantime, Kiki will be there, always beside him no matter what, I'm sure.


Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

What a lovely post, Estee. I’m so glad to have discovered your blog. I’ve posted a series of brief questions for parents of children with autism on my diversity blog, BEYOND Understanding. If you or any of your readers would consider visiting and responding, I’d appreciate it! Thanks so much. Karen DeGroot Carter, Denver

1:40 PM  
Blogger Marla Fauchier Baltes said...

We have two dogs and our autistic daughter loves them both. She also loves other peoples dogs and will go out of her way to meet them. She also remembers the names of almost every dog she has ever met. You can visit our dog blog at
Your dog is a cutie. I am glad your son is doing so well.

4:19 PM  

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